Updated: Jul 10
By Cheikh Akmach HAF Site Coordinator, Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region
On February 6th, the HAF team in Dakhla commenced a workshop series aimed at empowering women in the municipality. These special workshops are a crucial aspect of the High Atlas Foundation’s approach to achieving sustainable development.
The training is part of a MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) program for participatory planning and the implementation of community initiatives in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Region. The goal is to train 150 individuals from three communes in essential skills such as entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and advocacy, and finance three local initiatives that address current challenges.
Hajiba Boumasmar and Hana Ezaoui, certified trainers from the HAF team, warmly welcomed the 30 women that participated in the worksop. They were very positively surprised to see that women of various age groups participated in the workshop and they were excited to find out how this would affect the workshop’s overall experience.
As usual, the trainers explained the seven core areas of the workshop: emotions, relationships, body, sexuality, work, money and spirituality. They touched upon every area with great detail and they created an open and safe environment, which allowed the participants to freely express their personal views and experiences regarding these somewhat sensitive topics.
The women opened their hearts, they talked, laughed, and cried. They discussed the many issues they face, such as the difficulties to integrate into the job market in the region as a woman, the cultural obstacles stopping them from reaching their full potential, and their struggle with balancing identity and livelihood in modern times.
The event was also attended by a group of elected officials of the region and local civil society organizations, who also contributed to the rich discussions on how to empower women in the region and advance the region in general.
Students in the workshop work together to figure out challenges people in the region face. Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar
Hajiba and Hana steered the conversation to the needs of the people in the region and they initiated a brainstorming session to find suitable solutions. The participants were very happy to take part in the conversation as they finally felt like their voices were heard.
The participants came up with many interesting suggestions. One association proposed the creation of a center that empowers women and youth by providing them with training which will allow them to become active participants in the economy. The alarmingly high unemployment rate in the region and its consequences such as an increase in criminal activities and drug abuse were also discussed.
Women of all ages discuss the many challenges they face. Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar
Other cooperatives talked about their previous efforts in fighting illiteracy and how much work still needs to be done in that area. Participants proposed setting up a tailoring project that will focus on increasing employment and promoting Hassani Culture.
The participants emphasized the importance of empowering women and the youth as they see their own children, brothers, and sisters being overtaken by illiteracy, unemployment, and poverty. Most of their ideas focused on supporting and creating opportunities for these groups of people.
As expected, the presence of women of various age groups gave this workshop a very special atmosphere. Women from different generations had interesting and fruitful conversations and Hajiba and Hana were relieved to see that the women managed to bridge the seemingly insurmountable generational gap by discussing their personal experiences and issues and empathizing with each other.
Lighting up candles of hope at the end of the workshop. Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar
At the end of the workshop, Hajiba and Hana told the women about future workshops from HAF and they were eager to learn more about that. One of the women told them, “I wish I had gone through this workshop earlier in my life because that would have stopped me from making many mistakes.” She was one of the older participants of the workshop. She spoke about her life experiences and gave many pieces of advice to the young participants. She proved that there is no age limit to personal development.
While this workshop has come to an end, HAF continues to conduct training with women in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Region on building skills such as digital marketing, advocacy and participatory governance as part of the MEPI program.
A group picture with the participants holding their certifications at the end of the workshop. Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar